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Keywords:

  • Agrobacterium rhizogenes;
  • cluster roots;
  • multidrug and toxin efflux (MATE);
  • phosphorus deficiency;
  • proteoid roots;
  • white lupin

Summary

White lupin (Lupinus albus L.) has become an illuminating model for the study of plant adaptation to phosphorus (P) deficiency. It adapts to −P stress with a highly coordinated modification of root development and biochemistry resulting in short, densely clustered secondary roots called proteoid (or cluster) roots. In order to characterize genes involved in proteoid root formation and function in a homologous system, we have developed an Agrobacterium rhizogenes-based transformation system for white lupin roots that allows rapid analysis of reporter genes as well as RNA interference (RNAi)-based gene silencing. We used this system to characterize a lupin multidrug and toxin efflux (Lupinus albus MULTIDRUG AND TOXIN EFFLUX, LaMATE) gene previously shown to have enhanced expression under −P stress. Here, we show that LaMATE had high expression in proteoid roots not only under −P, but also under −Fe, −N, −Mn and +Al stress. A portion containing the putative LaMATE promoter was fused to GUS and enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP) reporter genes, and a translational LaMATE::EGFP fusion was constructed under control of the LaMATE promoter. The LaMATE promoter directed P-dependent GUS and EGFP expression to proteoid roots. Confocal microscopy in white lupin and Arabidopsis point to the plasma membrane as the likely location of the LaMATE protein. LaMATE displayed homology to FRD3 in Arabidopsis, but did not complement an Arabidopsis ferric reductase defective 3 (FRD3) mutant. RNAi-based gene silencing was shown to effectively reduce LaMATE expression in transformed white lupin roots. LaMATE RNAi-silenced plants displayed an about 20% reduction in dry weight.